The past year has been a whirlwind of activity for architects, builders, designers, and anyone involved with the business of home. As the primary residence suddenly became home and office and school for months on end, seemingly every homeowner began to wonder whether it might be time to remodel, redesign, or move. The impact on the industry has been staggering–firms are busier than ever and hiring at record paces.
Within this bustle of activity, however, three distinct architectural trends have emerged. They are truly of the moment but are not here-today-gone-tomorrow styles. These shifts are likely to remain for a long time to come–they are pivots towards the future which are rooted in our experiences of 2021, and can be artfully incorporated into almost any style of home.
1. An elimination of redundancy
As a result of supply chain issues and consumer demand, the cost of building materials alone has risen nearly 20% in the past year. Combined with labor shortages, the overall cost to build has gone up almost 30% in some areas. The most discerning client base, however, has not chosen to sacrifice the level of finish in order to contain costs on a new project. In almost all cases, these clients have chosen to carefully scale back the overall program, eliminating room redundancy while maintaining the highest level of finish and quality. In some instances, clients have opted for one family room instead of a living room and a family room, or an ample kitchen/dining area instead of two separate rooms, allowing the project’s footprint to quietly scale back and cost to simultaneously decrease without eliminating any of the home’s functionality or finish. We see this trend of eliminating redundancy continuing into 2022, especially while the cost to build remains high.
2. A heightened focus on outdoor program
Perhaps as a result of the decreased indoor footprint noted above, and with outdoor gathering thought to be a more Covid-safe activity, our second trend for 2022 is a heightened focus on exterior programming. At times, these outdoor spaces provide the square footage that may have been removed from an interior program, with fireplaces, conversation seating, and exterior dining all de rigueur. Even in a more rugged climate like that of New England, clients are asking for three-season porches, covered terraces, and patios that may be enclosed or heated in cold winter months for continuous year-round use. In snow season, heated exterior bluestone paths with drainage systems hidden below allow for ease of use without backbreaking shoveling in the most premium builds. We see this focus on outdoor enjoyment and exterior program as a trend that will persist and grow in years to come.
3. An insertion of a second home office
While this last trend may seem contradictory given the first, it actually represents a change in human behavior. Over the past year, more often than not, two home offices have been requested in new builds. For a residence that has capacity, one home office is a requirement, and two are distinctly preferred. With the new normal of zoom calls, hybrid work situations, and dual-professional families, one office may be for one spouse and the other may be for the second spouse, or may serve as a dual-function office and homework space for children. These rooms proved to have particular utility during the past year, with college aged children returning home for months on end and younger children participating in virtual school sessions. We see this two-office trend in homes with larger programs as an architectural evolution that is here to stay.